In the waning days before the South Shore's first decent coffee shop opens, I've been slumming it at Starbucks. This makes me cringe -- both the coffee (they burn it!) and supporting the big box store of java. Fortunately the Redeye Roasters Cafe & Espresso Lounge will be opening this Saturday in walking distance from the church. We'll finally have an independent coffee shop that both roasts on site and offers a panoramic view of Hingham Harbor. An early Christmas gift!
A few days ago I walked into the local Starbucks and the corporate mandated holiday transformation had just taken place: Christmas music was playing, gifts packs of coffee and holiday-themed mugs were on display, Gingerbread Lattes and Peppermint Mochas were flowing; and their Christmas Blend was brewing.
While listening to a jazzed up version of Jingle Bells I approached the counter and asked for a cup of the “Advent Blend.” Maybe it helped that I was wearing a collar but to his credit the barista didn’t bat an eye and handed over the coffee. I’m happy to order the Christmas Blend during the twelve days of Christmas – which start on Christmas Day -- and I’m under no illusion that my small act of civil disobedience matters much. But as Christians, being faithful to the seasons of the Church Year is a spiritual act.
During Advent we can wait; we must wait. Despite the Christmas-Industrial Complex that swirls around us, we're invited into a period of holy waiting and anticipation. Let the walls of your church this season become a refuge from the madness that surrounds us; a sanctuary from the shopping frenzy and the expectations of others and the guilt and the to-do list driven preparations. As the lights on the Advent wreath build over the next four weeks so does our impending joy. This is a time not of instant gratification but one of sacred loitering, pregnant with possibility and hope.
Yes, we know what the immediate future holds – we’ll soon celebrate the birth of our Savior. But thanks be to God for this counter-cultural gift of waiting and anticipation. Advent blessings to you all.
Wholly agree about Advent (and Starbucks). Thanks for the "Advent blend" suggestion. Not likely to be in a Starbucks to need it, but will adapt it to use elsewhere as the occasion requires from now to the 25th.
The phrase "corporate mandated holiday transformation," however, gave me pause: We Christians, after all, belong to the largest 'corporation' around--the b o d y of Christ--whose earthly administration has defined the calendar that we (and many in the secular world) follow, and that includes a mandate to devote these few weeks before the holyday of Christmas to (personal) transformation. The stores may be confused about the name of this season, and the results of their transformation may well be crass, but perhaps we should at least concede they're responding to the fundamental Advent imperative?
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